Kitchen Lighting and Electrics

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kitchen-diner-side-return-extensionkitchen diner in bathnew modern white kitchen

Here we offer practical ideas and advice for designing your kitchen lighting and electrics. This is one of a series of advice sheets that draw on our experience of designing kitchens over the past 14 years. You can also read more about our kitchen design service, which covers everything from concept to completion.

this photo shows kitchen lighting and electrics - recessed downlighters, pelmet lights, and plinth lights

We offered advice on how to specify your kitchen lighting and electrics in our kitchen design advice column. In conjunction with this, you should also produce your kitchen lighting and electrics overlay showing your choice of lights, the switch that operates each and location of sockets. Incorporate several lighting circuits for flexibility and decide whether to fit dimmer and two-way switches. For more general information read our page on home lighting.

kitchen electrical design

Natural Lighting

Designing your kitchen lighting and electrics shouldn’t stop you from considering natural light. Make the most of it using roof lights and glazing as in the image below, which we installed as part of a side return extension project. If space allows, fit an additional glazed panel above the doors, effectively creating a glazed wall.


If you are creating a knock-through kitchen-diner, fit bi-fold doors or french doors to the garden, across the full width. Minimise sight lines to maximise the amount of glass and hence light entering the kitchen.

airy kitchen

Kitchen Lighting

For main kitchen lighting consider fire-rated, recessed, warm white LED ceiling downlighters spaced 800-1000mm apart. Make sure that fittings near the wall units are 450-500mm off the wall to avoid casting shadows on the worktop. Lighting positions are finalised once you can see the joists above. You may find that your original plan needs to be modified slightly when you expose the joists.

kitchen lighting and electrics

You may find the new 10W LEDs a little bright.  7W alternatives are perfectly fine.

joists exposed for lighting positions

You probably don’t need a dimmer switch just for a kitchen, but if you have a kitchen-diner you may wish to dim the dining area lights. Remember dimmer switches require a deeper back-box so check with your electrician. Also check how many fittings can run off each dimmer switch as there may be a limit. One final piece of advice is to choose a quality dimmer; some cheaper ones (and some not so cheap!) buzz annoyingly.


Pelmet Lighting

Pelmet lights fitted beneath the wall units provide task lighting directly to the worktop – consider ultra-slim, warm-white LED strip lights which come in 300, 500 and 1000mm lengths;  being slim, the pelmets hide them completely. Having these on a separate wall switch, as well as a local switch, is useful for night-time visits and they provide a pleasant ambiance as background lighting in a kitchen diner.


Modern kitchens may not have a pelmet to hide the light, so find a low profile model. The triangular shaped lights work well with this style of kitchen, although we prefer longer fittings to spread the light further along the worktop.

Make sure your kitchen fitter is aware of your lighting plans so he or she can accommodate the cabling in the right place before the cabinets are fitted; if possible, your electrician and fitter shouuld work collaboratively.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting may take the form of uplighters on the cabinets – but make sure your plastering is in good condition and there are no spiders’ webs, as these will be shown up. LED rope or marker lights around the plinth offer interest and illuminated art also works well with a spotlight directed at a painting.

For the island in the image below, we cut the base end panels to create a plinth margin fully around the island (normally, the end panels run straight to the floor which then cover the cut plinths on the two remaining sides). We now had exposed plinth ends to cover, so we carefully removed sections of the grey from scrap pieces and stuck them on to create grey ends. The plinth light could then run continuously around the island which looks fantastic, particularly in the evening.


Here is an example of kitchen plinth lighting bringing out the warmth of the oak floor.

green grey kitchen

Kitchen Sockets

Your floorplan will show the locations of sockets for the fixed appliances. We always look to fit fused spurs and other unattractive features in adjacent cabinets – easily acessible but out of sight. You will also need wall sockets for the toaster and kettle and several spares in positions identified on the plan.

Pop up sockets look cool, but check where they can be positioned and how you would use them – you won’t want to spill your coffee down the hole, for instance, and you’ll pay extra to have the hole machined in the worktop. Think whether you are likely to have these sockets up most of the time; if so, revert to a wall socket – they are much cheaper.

Sockets can also be fitted in islands and peninsulas. Many of our clients use these for charging devices.


If the budget allows, you can have sockets and switches colour-matched to a glass splashback. This will cost over £100 per item for small quantities but does look good.

colour matched socket and switch

Plinth Heater

If you need an extra boost of warmth, consider a plinth heater; a small fan heater that blows warm air through a vent from beneath a base unit.  You can see one in the image below, particularly useful where space is tight.

small kitchen after refurbishment

Heat Detectors and Smoke Alarms

You will almost certainly need these to accord with building regulations, but try to fit them out of your eye line.

Home Entertainment in the kitchen

While some people will be happy to plug in a radio, you might consider ceiling speakers linked to a home entertainment system. You can then stream your favourite music, listen to your CDs and the radio all controlled from a handset or your smartphone with equipment fitted elsewhere in the home.

how to light a space with no ceiling

External Lighting and Power

With a kitchen often close to the garden, consider external lighting and power whilst electrical work is proceeding internally.  Fit a switch in the kitchen for your exterior lights whether PIR or standard.  We’ve fitted lights in planters, on patios, posts and on paths to provide a dramatic vista at night. An external socket is also useful for your lawnmower and other tools.

lights in planters

kitchen lighting and electrics

We hope you’ve been inspired by this review of kitchen lighting and electrics. It is a crucial part of kitchen design and is too often overlooked.  You can’t easily add cables and sockets once the walls have been plastered.  make sure everything is designed and located by the time electricians turn up for their first fix.

We’re happy to share our experience from designing kitchens over the past 14 years;  each one is different, and each client has new ideas to share.  We’ve witten a number of guidance documents and you may care to read our guide to kitchen designs.

Kitchen design and installation in bath

Style Within will design and install your total kitchen renovation, including any building work;  we manage everything for you. If you think we may be able to help with your project in Bath or Bristol, we’d like to invite you to read more about our kitchen design service.


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